Over 300 more workers fainted in eight factories in Kandal province on Friday after 119 collapsed at a toy factory in the same economic zone on Thursday, an incident authorities blamed on insecticide being sprayed on a nearby farm.
Pok Vanthat, chairman of the Labor Ministry’s fainting research and prevention committee, said that a total of 442 workers had collapsed at toy and clothing factories in the 7NG Economic Zone in Khsach Kandal district over the two-day period.
“On Friday, there were 323 workers in total that fainted,” he said.
Mr. Vanthat identified the eight factories as the PPNP Soya Toy, Cam Taekang Sportech, Dream Toys International, Ginwin Industry, Indochine Apparel, Starlight Apparel Manufacturing, Cambo Unique Garment and New Ascent International Garments. He said the owners of the factories were from South Korea, China, India, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Mr. Vanthat agreed with deputy district police chief Un Yong’s assessment on Thursday that the faintings were caused by a farmer spraying chemicals nearby.
“The insecticide smell, combined with the hot weather, spread when the wind arrived,” Mr. Vanthat said, dismissing any possibility of a problem inside the factories. “There is no problem because of the factories—the factories’ atmosphere is good,” he said.
Seang Rithy, president of the Cambodian Labor Solidarity Union Federation, which claims to have about 5,000 members working in the economic zone, placed the number of workers who fainted at more than 1,000.
“I agree that the farmer who sprayed insecticide nearby caused the faintings, but I think there is not only one reason because the workers said they had another bad chemical smell that is different to the insecticide smell,” he said.
Factory representatives could not be reached for comment.
Mr. Vanthat said the factories temporarily closed for cleaning and reopened on Saturday, and that the workers who fainted will be able to return to work later this week.
Following a meeting with factory representatives, he said local authorities banned farmers from using insecticide around the factories, with a possible exception on workers’ days off.